Red LineSouth Branch Closure

Crime, Commute Time Trouble Some Riders

By Shellye Leggett

PostedThursday, May 9, 2013

Chicago commuters will have to take extra time and precautions during the Red Line South Branch reconstruction project starting May 19. 

On May 19th, the CTA will shut down the Red Line from the Cermak-Chinatown station to the 95th/Dan Ryan station for a five-month, $425 million reconstruction project to replace 43-year-old rails to make the trains faster and smoother. 

Mustafa Muhammad, a Hyde Park resident and a student at Harold Washington College, has safety and logistics concerns about his alternate travel options.  

Every day, getting to work is going to be difficult. I take the Red Line everywhere,” Muhammad said. “The Red Line shutting down isn’t helping me right now. It’s going to take an extra 30 to 45 minutes to get to and from work taking any other way. Plus, I really shouldn’t be walking around when I get off at 1 a.m. Not the best neighborhoods to be caught in after midnight.”

Red Line riders will have three main options of alternate transportation: 

  • Free shuttle buses with 24-hour service;
  • Red Line trains operating on green line tracks;
  • 50-cent discounted bus rides on South Side bus routes.

Some students, like University of Chicago junior Urveel Shah, don’t like the idea of traveling in unfamiliar territory.

“People at my school have two options of travel if they don’t have a car: take a bus to the Metra or take a bus to the Red Line,” Shah said. “I think the Red Line and the Green Line are extremely unsafe and now they’re going to be over crowded and unsafe. Not a great combination.” 

Chicago crime statistics over the past several years show that violent crime increases during the summer months – the same months the Red Line South Branch will be closed down.

CTA media specialist Steve Mayberry said safety and security is the CTA’s “paramount concern during the Red Line South Reconstruction Project.”

“The CTA has been meeting with the Chicago Police Department, elected officials, community leaders and others to discuss myriad issues related to safety and security and develop effective strategies,” he said. “The CPD has agreed to strategically deploy its resources throughout the entire construction project.” 

David Ashley, a North Park University junior and South Side native, said that his biggest concern is his safety this summer. He travels from the South Side to Skokie for summer school.

“I will have to be more on guard taking the buses now,” he said.

DePaul University graduate student LaToya Outlaw shared Ashley’s concerns.

“I once saw a guy snatch some girls’ iPhone right out of her hand and run off the bus with it,” Outlaw said. “She tried to chase him down, but didn’t catch him. Now, when I have to go to my relatives’ house on the South Side, I have to take two buses instead of one train. I’m not ready to start dealing with all this petty crime on the CTA and the buses.”

The CTA website recommends that for the first couple weeks, riders take extra time to get where they need to go. Commuting times will depend on the amount of passengers, the time of day, and also the weather. Allowing for extra travel time will also make getting from point A to point B a much smoother and safer experience for those who are vulnerable and worried about being on time.

“Without the Red Line running down south, it’s going to be a much rougher commute,” Shah said. “I really hope the [Chicago Police Department] are going to be around to regulate, especially for students.”

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